Apple’s new Lightning dock connector which debuted on the iPhone 5 and the new colorful iPod touch isn’t just 80 percent smaller (and nearly identical in size to the micro-USB), reversible and all digital, it is also designed with USB I/O technology in mind.

According to a report from Macotakara, the Japanese blog with a fairly accurate track record, Lightning I/O has built-in support to host USB devices, which could lead to more fully-featured accessories than previously possible. Think keyboards, digital cameras, MIDI interfaces, mics and other USB-based gear…

According to the Macotakara report (machine-translated):

In the conventional Dock adapter, three types of charging accessories development, serial, the device was possible, USB host seems to be added to these.

New dock connector Lightning is capable for hosting USB devices.

Since old Dock connector regulation supports 3types of accessories as charging, serial and device, new Lightning supports additionally hosting USB devices.

I think Macotakara is onto something here.

The Apple Camera Connection Kit already enables iPad owners to connect digital cameras via USB. While the adapter’s functionality is limited to transferring photos and video clips only, it shows Apple’s willingness to concede where it makes sense.


Pictured here: Apple’s $19 Lightning to USB cable.

I’m purely speculating here, but this could make possible a much broader range of accessories. In theory, a vendor could take existing USB accessory and make it work with Lightning-equipped iOS devices just by writing a dedicated app to control it.

Users would be able to connect a USB accessory to their Lightning device via the Lightning to USB cable, pictured above. Or maybe a Lightning to USB adapter is in the works?

This wasn’t technically possible at all with the legacy 30-pin dock connector, which didn’t support USB hosting capability.


Apple’s $29 Lightning to 30-pin Adapter (sold separately, apparently) ensures backwards compatibility with the accessories relying on the legacy 30-pin dock connector.

Wondering why the iPhone 5 has a Lightning connector instead of a micro-USB port?

It’s because that connector isn’t smart enough.

Your take on this alleged USB hosting Lightning capability?